R-E-S-P-E-C-T

In this crazy milieu of life there is one segment of it we call religion, and within it there is one aspect that gets bandied about as if it is a valid topic of discussion. This is the concept of respect. Theists often use it as a shield to avoid criticism. They feel that because they believe in often fantastic concepts and ideas, and combine them all together in a belief system they follow, that because of the mere fact that it is styled as religious, it should be accorded great deference, and even respect by those who don’t share those beliefs. This has been recently illustrated by the P.Z. Myers/Bill Donohue flap. If you’re not familiar with it, let me try to summarize:

In a recent post, entitled “It’s a Fracking Cracker!”, P.Z. commented about a story concerning a young man in Florida who surreptitiously absconded with a consecrated communion wafer, and let it be known that he was holding it. Perhaps abscond is not an accurate verb to describe what he did, since the host was given to him, albeit conditionally, on the assumption that he would ingest it, not take it home as a collectible. I digress.

PZ was incredulous, because in response to this “kidnapping” (sans kid) the young man received death threats from various members of the Catholic religion. In comparison, any right thinking, brain functioning human would have to say that death threats are, at least, an inappropriate response. However, the man gave the wafer back after receiving these threats. P.Z. asked his readers to score a real, consecrated communion wafer, so that he could publicly desecrate it himself, in solidarity with the idea that the wafer should be accorded no more respect than the man who took it; indeed, far less.

Enter Bill Donohue. Mr. D is the titular head, and rabid spokesman for, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which has taken up the fight against Professor Myers, issuing numerous Press Releases in an attempt to punish PZ for dissing the Body of Christ. He wants him fired from his job, at least.  Now Myers is receiving death threats, and his employer has taken down the link to his blog, one of the most popular on the ‘net.

It’s all a lot of silliness about nothing, or as Myers says, a frackin’ cracker. We all know he misspelled fuckin‘.

Now, I can understand that people have strange beliefs that they find to be true, or reassuring, or at the very least, plausible. I have a few of my own that others might find outrageous, such as that the Grateful Dead is one of the greatest bands ever assembled. Those Stones freaks who disagree are not worthy of my time, but I certainly wouldn’t even think of sending death threats, or even abusive emails, to them.

Many Catholics, however, hold the idea of the transubstantiation of Jesus so seriously, that they cannot abide the thought that others find the idea, of a piece of unleavened cracker literally turning into a slice of flesh from an individual of questionable existence, patently absurd. It’s one thing to go to mass and chew up, swallow, digest (think stomach acid) and eventually defecate the body of Christ in a ritual of extreme religious significance, one that brings great, though somewhat quizzical, comfort to the individual partaking in this ritual. It’s another to expect that non-catholics should share this comfort, much less accord it a high level of respect. However, the last thing one would expect from members of a religion that preaches love for their fellow man, is abuse and death threats.

The hypocrisy here is glaring, as it is with most religious beliefs. Catholics expect that their silly fantasies should be respected, yet I would venture that they don’t realize that their very belief in their religious dogma actually disrespects most other religious dogmas. The Catholic Church, for instance, has stated that evolution is not incompatible with Catholicism, while many other religions, including Islam and most fundamentalist Protestant sects believe that it is.  Would the Pope take umbrage at a fatwa being issued against him until he conforms with Islamic teaching? Catholic women don’t wear the burka, or otherwise dress in accordance with Mohammedan proscriptions. Ever been to a teen dance at the local Catholic church? Can you imagine the Islamic response to that? All of these are examples of day to day disrespect for the very beliefs of other religions. We disrespect those beliefs by our very existence and lives.

On a different level, why are any religions accorded any respect? I respect the fact that the Catholic Church is responsible, albeit indirectly, for the massive amount of literature, art and music that came out of western civilization. In that regard, I am only respectful of its many accomplishments, not its beliefs, nor any of the negative results of its overriding history (think of the name of this blog). Good can come out of nonsense, on occasion. The beliefs, however, must substantiate why they should be accorded respect, as respect must be earned. It is not automatic. The Bill Donohues of the world would have you believe that it is, but it’s not. Blind adherence to doctrine does nothing but perpetuate ignorance. Why should we respect a book, read by billions of people, that claims that the Earth is only about 6000 years old. This is not theology, it is willful ignorance, and deserves no respect. It is not disrespectful to point out errant nonsense. It is disrespectful to point out that the people who believe errant nonsense, are no better than dirt. So stealing a cracker is not disrespectful. Sodomizing a child while purporting to save his soul is.

Let’s keep things in perspective. What is needed in this world is for us to become acclimatized to more disrespect for religious belief, and less deference. Once the absurdity of most beliefs are pointed out, hopefully, the world will become more rational in its view of reality. Criticism of belief, peppered with a fair dose of skepticism, is a good thing, not bad. Stealing a communion wafer to help raise the consciousness of those who think it is sacred works no harm on the cracker, nor on the believer in the cracker, but actually advances knowledge over ignorance, by forcing people to confront the truth of their beliefs.

I note that the theft of the cracker did not result in a lighting strike from heaven. Now there’s some good evidence for the truth.

[UPDATE: Apparently one of the death threats sent to P.Z. Myers has led to the firing of the owner of the email account that it was sent from, even though the actual sender was the owner’s husband. See? Respect. Now if the threatening husband had a little respect for the First Amendment, or at the very least, wasn’t so thoroughly wrapped up in his Catholic beliefs, this would not have happened. Those beliefs caused him to get so angry, that he threatened to violate one of the Ten Commandments.

Religion engenders hypocrisy. It’s inevitable.]

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22 thoughts on “R-E-S-P-E-C-T

  1. Ex, I’d say something strong would be in order. Stinky cheese and Jesus just go together. I’ll leave the wine choice to you, as our resident expert. If you leave it to me, you might end up with Manishevitz.

    SI said: However, the last thing one would expect from members of a religion that preaches love for their fellow man, is abuse and death threats.

    Yeah – what’s next? A witch hunt? Who’d expect such things from a religion that preaches love for their fellow man? It’s crazy.

  2. If the communion wafer really does become a piece of the body of Christ, then, obviously, desecration of the wafer becomes desecration of Christ Himself which insults . . . insults . . . Sorry. Can’t coninue. Brain started to work.

    I’ve been following that one over at Pharyngula and am amazed and appalled at the level of hate coming from these theists. They claim Jesus is the source of love, so I have to ask, what would Jesus do in a case like this? Didn’t Jesus (or the set of stories surrounding the historical consruct recognized today as Jesus) spend a fair amount of time going after different versions of Judaism extant in Palestine at the time? Did he show respect?

    Sheesh. Trying to take idiocy like this serious is tough. There may be something in religion deserving of respect.

    However, I must take umbrage with your advocacy of The Greatful Dead as the best band of all time. I nominate the Weavers.

    Ex: Cheez Whizz. Fake cheese for a fake miracle.

  3. One would expect that an omnipotent, omniscient god would be instantly aware when a piece of his own body is being carried out of a church in something other than someone’s gastrointestinal system. Little lights and warning buzzers should go off in the control room at Communion Central in Heaven. There should be an instant de-transubstantiation that goes into effect automatically, just so this sort of thing can’t happen.

    For god’s sake, he’s god, isn’t he? He could do at least that.

    There’s nothing like a Grateful Dead concert.

  4. SI: The only Grateful Dead concert I ever went to was (sort of) by accident: they were double billed with Bob Dylan at RFK in DC. Nine of us drove down in my red VW Microbus to catch the concert.

    As far as the Communion Central alarm system goes? Well, it takes a lot to miraculously trasmute the wafer into flesh, and, since God’s miracles seem to have devolved to the level of faces on toast, doing another miracle that quickly would most likely be beyond his infinite power.

  5. SI: The only Grateful Dead concert I ever went to was (sort of) by accident: they were double billed with Bob Dylan at RFK in DC. Nine of us drove down in my red VW Microbus to catch the concert.

    One of the times I saw them was at RFK also, only it was in July of 1973. They were double billed with the Allman Bros.

  6. Excellent post. I notice that you did not have what I thought would have been an obligatory disclaimer:

    No crackers were crumbled during the composition of this post.

  7. Your are not only a blasphimist (not spelled correctly) but your thoughts are from hell itself. You don’t have to believe in anything. I guess you have a right and free choice but you are probably the same type of person who supports pedophilia and homosexuality. You only have to think to yourself how Hell would be like…forever…in perhaps a very cold place where you can never get warm or perhaps in a place where it is horribly hot and your skin burns and cannot be quenched. It’s your choice, forever is a long time.

    Joe

  8. I take it you don’t watch Battlestar Galactica? “Frack” is their “fuck”.

    You know they put the cracker in your hand now, not your mouth. It used to be you held open your mouth, stuck out your tongue and the priest dropped a cracker on it. At first I thought they stopped that because it’s kinda, well, the whole thing probably gave the priest sexual thoughts and who pays for that? The alter boys. But no, the reason was for hygiene. Yes that’s right, it’s the body of Jesus, full of magical goodness, but not so magical to protect you from whatever germs may be on the priest’s fingers (and that begs for another alter boy joke).

    I brought this up to a friend recently and joked about testing it for Jesus dna and he said, “it doesn’t work like that”. Well how the fuck does it work then? Is it Jesus’ flesh, or is it a cracker? To further complicate things, they won’t let those people with gluten allergies have some other kind of cracker. Apparently Jesus can only transubstantiate into wheat products. And of course, if he ain’t gonna take care of the germs on the priest’s fingers, he sure as hell ain’t gonna temporarily take care of your little gluten allergy while he passes through.

    This whole thing is fucking nuts. The church’s policy is to physically restrain anyone trying to make off with Jesus infused crackers! Wtf?! No outrage over buggerin’ the alter boys, or failing to clean up afterwards before mass, but steal a cracker? Oh, that gets the catholics pissed. Respect? You gotta be kidding me. This shit is ridiculous.

  9. ugh that whole cracker business is creepy to begin with. why would “jesus” want ppl to eat him? cannibalism is pretty gross

    @ joe: when u speak, er type, u just prove that religious people are jerks, you might wanna pray for some help with that

  10. Prophecy 16th July 08

    This prophecy came to me this morning from the Lord.
    The Lord said, “ Today a great heavenly host of angels has been released unto the earth. To the elect the chosen ones, ( that is the Christians), they will bring blessings of healings, joy, peace and prosperity, of unimaginable amounts.
    But this heavenly host of angels shall also bring evil, destruction and fear upon the rest of the inhabitants of the earth, says the Lord of hosts.

    EVANGELIST BILLY BOLITHO

    http://www.evangelistbillybolitho.blogspot.com

  11. Prophecy 16th July 08

    This prophecy came to me this morning from Balrek.
    Balrek said, “ Today a great heavenly host of purple dragons has been released unto the earth. To the elect the chosen ones, ( that is the followers of Balrek), they will bring blessings of healings, joy, peace and prosperity, of unimaginable amounts.
    But this heavenly host of purple dragons shall also bring evil, destruction and fear upon the rest of the inhabitants of the earth, says Balrek, Lord of hosts.

    Oh dear, does that sound ridiculous to you? Funny that. I only changed a couple of the names. Guess that doesn’t say much for the source material, eh?

    Go get a clue you nutjob.

  12. Ah, Billy Bolitho. Spamming for Jesus again?

    On a post related note, should you wish to write to PZ’s boss, his e-mail is bruin001@mail.umn.edu – write FAO President Bruinink.

    Oh, and this is clearly the best accompaniment to a Jesus cracker.

  13. Joe said: I guess you have a right and free choice but you are probably the same type of person who supports pedophilia and homosexuality.

    No one supports pedophiles like the Catholic Church. As far as homosexuals, you as a Christian should be the first to support them. Jesus was gay. If you don’t believe that one, at least try to find the verses where he condemned them. Let me save you some time. You won’t.

  14. Cheesus and crackers. What could be better?

    They go especially well with communion wine. 😉

  15. Pinch me. Am I dreaming or did I really just read a story about the wrath of the theists on a boy who took a Jeez It ‘to go?’

  16. @ Kat: It’s a metaphor. (Oh, forgot where I was. It’s a fucking metaphor.) Jesus is the Paschal Lamb, and lamb is what you sacrifice to God and only the priests can eat it; and the wine is his blood, and every good Jew know you do not eat blood!!!!, so it’s a double whammy at the Old Testament. The man taught in parables and metaphors – though his reasons are somewhat suspect (see below) and this one is no different. That people take it literally is yet another example of the magical thinking of the religious…

    Matthew 13:10-17
    10. And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
    11. Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.
    12. “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.
    13. “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
    14. “In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, `YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND;
    YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
    15. FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL,
    WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR,
    AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES,
    OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES,
    HEAR WITH THEIR EARS,
    AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN,
    AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’
    16. “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.
    17. “For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

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